Tag: Los Angeles Philharmonic

Trey Anastasio 03/10/12: Walt Disney Concert Hall – Los Angeles, CA

Trey Anastasio w/ the Los  Angeles Philharmonic 03/10/12

Walt Disney Concert Hall – Los Angeles, CA

Words/Photos by Reverend Justito

Back in 2010 I wrote an open letter to Phish and the Los Angeles Philharmonic begging them to team up for a performance at the Hollywood Bowl. While we finally got to see Phish at the Bowl last summer, it was your typical two set balls to the wall affair with no sign of the Phil in sight. Thankfully my wish somewhat came true in March of 2012 as Trey Anastasio of Phish took on the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a fantastic night at the immaculate Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

I really didn’t know what to expect as we headed from our car up into the massive structure that serves as the LA Phil’s winter home. The Phish scene was interesting on this particular evening to say the least. I would say at least two thirds of the crowd dressed up for the occasion. In fact just about every wook I saw out dressed my modest button down and jeans attire. Everyone was on their best behavior for a fancy affair in the heart of Los Angeles.

After enjoying dinner in the dining area within the venue we found our way to our seats just as members of the LA Phil began to warm up. I enjoyed one of the French Horn players practicing certain sections of Stash and I swear one of the bass players was teasing Down With Disease to warm himself up for the evening. While advertised as a prompt 8pm start time, the show finally got started around 10 after as Anastasio and conductor Scott Dunn took the stage. Opening with First Tube it was hard to sit still as the excitement and the energy of the song all hit at once. Anastasio used just a slight hint of distortion with his Ocelot electric guitar and toned the song down just enough for the Philharmonic to keep up and let everyone know that we are here and this is happening.

After a solid performance of Water In The Sky which sounded a lot like the Festival 8 version on steroids, the night’s first highlight unfolded. With Anastasio on acoustic guitar the entire time Divided Sky was a new indescribable form of beautiful. The way the string section lifted this number I came to the conclusion that this needs to be playing when I take my walk down the long tunnel towards the white light. While Brian and Robert (Phishbeards favorite Phish song for those keeping score at home) would have probably been a mood killer if this was Phish on a Saturday night, it was very enjoyable with the additional musicians.

Guyute shocked me in the sense that it was done as an instrumental. This was a perfect way for the Philharmonic to show off some more of its quirky instruments and unusual sounds they can make. I saw instruments being used that I couldn’t even name, it was great. I was equally impressed by Stash. I won’t sugar coat it, I just don’t like this particular song. Yet with the Philharmonic it took on a whole new vibe and I found it incredible. From Anastasio’s slowed down lyrical delivery to various members of the Philharmonic smiling from the synchronized hand claps of the audience this song finally felt special after hearing it for the last 16 years. Having apologized for years of promising to be back in 15 minutes and taking much longer, Anastasio stressed that there would only be a 10 minute break on this evening. His promise was correct as after a short break we were back for a second set of music.

I knew the second set was scheduled to open with Time Turns Elastic. I also know I am not alone in saying that this song can be torturous. With the understanding that the orchestral version is much longer than the Phish version I had an open mind for the music. However it was still very difficult to sit through at times and judging by the restless nature of many in the crowd I was not alone for this. I am sure you could find folks that disagree somewhere, but judging by the heckles from numerous members of my section this was the lowest point in a night of exhilarating highs.

Since I have never seen Phish perform If I Could, I was excited for the chance to hear one of my favorite tracks from Hoist. This take gave me chills it was so good. The extended string heavy outro sounded great inside the space that Anastasio admitted is the best sounding room he’s ever performed in.

If you were to ask me what the quintessential Phish song is, I would say You Enjoy Myself. It is my favorite song and I have had the fortune of seeing numerous versions over the years. With a very well behaved crowd at the edge of their seats the entire night this song was the moment the dam busted open as our minds were officially blown. You Enjoy Myself is classical music done as rock and roll. To hear it as classical music was too much for the audience. As the song builds and builds folks could no longer withhold the cheers and some even left their seats to stand. As we finally broke and crashed down into the Boy Man God Shit section many laughed as the words were replaced by horns that sounded like a wet version of the last word. For as foul as that sounds it worked perfectly and took the song to a new and exciting place. However the highlight of the song was the ending vocal jam. With the Philharmonic laying down a melody below him Anastasio walked about 10 feet away from his microphone. With the room built for sound, the sold out crowd was able to hear Anastasio sing a vocal jam along with the musicians behind him. It was an incredible way to end over two hours of music.

Anastasio of course came back out for an encore. You know I have to point out that once again the west coast got screwed as out of the four shows Anastasio did with Orchestras this summer we were the only ones who didn’t get to hear Golden Slumbers>Carry That Weight>The End. We did however get a sweet take on The Inlaw Josie Wales before we headed back to our cars in an attempt to navigate the snarled streets of downtown Los Angeles. Even with the shortest set of the tour, it was an amazing opportunity to hear the music of my favorite band in a brand new reimagined light. Now let’s have another round when the Hollywood Bowl books Phish for three nights for their annual July 4th celebration in 2013.

Phish vs. The Philharmonic – Another Open Letter To Phish

Dear Phish,

On Monday I had to go to the dentist and get my teeth cleaned which resulted in me taking a different route to work.  Along that route was The Troubadour where I was lucky enough to see Mike Gordon just shy of 48 hours earlier.  However, it was another legendary Southern California venue that not only caught my eye but gave me an amazing idea that I think you are going to like.  Because after all, I know you guys don’t have anything to do then read open letters from a bitter West Coast fan who wishes you guys played my time zone multiple times a year.

 

Rumor has it that you guys had a hold on the Hollywood Bowl (for what they call a lease event) for your Fall 2004 tour.  We all know what happened there and why you never made it.  Since you have returned from your break up, multiple “rumors” have pointed to you playing the historic hillside venue.  Clearly this has yet to happen.  Then again, you have yet to play Los Angeles county since your return, not that I am crying or anything like that.  Yet as I drove past the venue on my way to work Monday, a huge WHAT IF sunk into my head.

 What if Phish not only played the Hollywood Bowl, but played it with the LA Philharmonic?

 

Now let’s look at the benefits of this truly epic idea.  First off and most obvious, is the fact that the Bowl is an amazing venue where everyone who is anyone has graced the stage.  In my decade in Southern California I have seen the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Gnarls Barkley, Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin and Willie Nelson perform.  I could name hundreds of artists who have graced the stage.  Hell they even let Vampire Weekend perform at the Bowl, so why not Phish?  They can clearly pack large venues and can you imagine the Kuroda light show inside of the band shell?  I know I don’t need to mention how much nicer the hills of Hollywood are versus the hills of Irvine, Chula Vista or San Bernardino where those other outdoor music venues are located.

 

Now, for those who live outside of Southern California, here is something you may not know about the Bowl.  When a show is sponsored by the Bowl, you are encouraged to bring in your own food and drink (beer and wine only, sorry no hard alcohol).  Could you imagine sitting there under the stars with a nice red wine and some organic vegan snacks while the sounds of Moma Dance tickled your ears?  Then again, this could also be used as an argument as to why Phish should not play the Bowl.  So remember wooks, hippie crack addicts and other scum of our community – if this is to happen, this is a privilege.  Respect it.

 

While an open beverage policy and historical landmarks are indeed important, the main point is the music.  Each year a few contemporary artists (Death Cab for Cutie, Faith Hill etc) come to the Bowl and perform songs backed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Perhaps the band could perform alone during Set I, but invite the LA Phil out for Set II.  Sure, you may not have any massive “Mikes>Simple>Light>Weekapaug” jams, but could you imagine songs like “You Enjoy Myself” “The Divided Sky” and even “Time Turns Elastic” backed by some of the worlds most respected musicians?  I am sure Trey can and I am sure the thought would send his ADHD into overdrive.

So let’s do it!  Phish – it gives your loyal west coast fans not only a chance to see you, but a very special event.  It gives Fishman a chance to rock a suit like it was 1997 all over again.  It gives Trey the chance to use his immense talent once again to transcribe Phish classics for strings and horns and other fine orchestral instruments.  Most important, the band has a chance to not only take their music in a new direction, but prove themselves to a whole new set of fans (as the Hollywood Bowl crowd is often made up “subscribers” whose whole point is to discover new music).  Phish, meet the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Los Angeles Philharmonic – please meet Phish.  I am ready to have my mind melted in an all new way (may I suggest July 4th weekend 2011).  After all, if Raphael Saadiq is going to perform your songs at the Bowl, you may as well do the same.

Thanks for your time,

Reverend Jusito – concertconfessions.com

CC: Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Philharmonic

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